Substrate effects from force chain dynamics in dense granular flows

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Estep, Joseph Jeremiah
Dufek, Josef
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Granular materials are composed of solid, discrete particles and exhibit mechanical behavior that differs from those of fluids and solids. The rheology of granular flows is principal to a suite of natural hazards. Laboratory experiments and numerical models have adequately reproduced several features observed in terrestrial gravity driven geophysical flows; however, quantitative comparison to field observations exposes a failure to explain the high mobility and duration of many of these flows. The ability of a granular material to resist deformation is a function of the force chain network inherent to the material. This investigation addresses the evolutionary character of force chains in unconfined, two-dimensional, gravity driven granular flows. Our particular emphasis concerns the effects of stress localization on the substrate by dynamic force chain evolution and the implications for bed erosion in dense granular flows. Experimental systems employing photoelastic techniques provide an avenue for quantitative force analysis via image processing and provide dataset that can be used validate discrete element modeling approaches. We show that force chains cause extreme bed force localization throughout dynamic granular systems in spatial and temporal space; and that these localized forces can propagate extensively into the substrate, even ahead of the flow front.
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